The council’s public health team won the hotly-contested ‘local authority project of the year award’ for its work on sustainable food.

Held in Birmingham on Saturday 20 May, the awards are made up of 11 categories, each of which celebrates the work of the region’s public sector community. Five authorities were shortlisted in the ‘local authority project of the year award’.

Herefordshire Council’s team beat competition from Birmingham, Dudley, Shropshire and Worcestershire to clinch first prize.

The council’s team identified opportunities as well as challenges in maintaining and delivering sustainable food across its sparsely populated rural county.

While it can be more difficult to access food in Herefordshire than in urban areas, its rurality offers more opportunities for food production.

Relatively speaking, the county’s food travels more miles before being sold by retailers. Unsurprisingly, this adds to the cost of food on shop shelves, which is often referred to as a ‘rural premium’.

As part of the project, Herefordshire Council’s team continue to work with Herefordshire Food Alliance to support a sustainable food county, focusing on six key system areas. They include encouraging more people to buy local food. As well as reducing food miles, this also supports the county’s high proportion of farms (agriculture makes up 24 per cent of Herefordshire’s businesses).

The judges could see that the award-winners took a three-pronged approach to their sustainable food project. The Herefordshire team’s strategy was to bring together partners in related industries to make food systems more accessible. They also part-funded a coordinator’s role to manage their new approach. Those strands were brought together to support local activities to help promote a sustainable food system.

Kristan Pritchard, who led the project on the council’s behalf, says:

“It was fantastic for our partnership to be recognised for all their hard work on this project. The challenges around food are obviously massive. But we can all do our bit. Buying fresh food from a farmers’ market puts money back into the local economy. Meal planning, growing your own, buying ‘wonky’ veg and in-season produce can reduce food waste, be better for the environment and benefit our health.”

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